When TV’s Ethics Matter, and When They Don’t

As one who has argued that certain TV commercials, notably the infamous “green shirt” Tide commercial, the Twix commercial  and Direct TV’s disturbing (but often funny) series showing football fans hurting rival team supporters, I know I’m asking for trouble by declaring, as I officially do here, that for compliance firm Global Ethics to criticize TV shows like “The Office” and “30 Rock” for supposed workplace ethics violations is absurd. But it is absurd. And criticizing the commercials in question is not.

Hear me out. Continue reading

More Zombie Ethics: George Lucas, Re-Animator

It seems that cinema innovator and mega-mogul George Lucas is using a large chunk of his “Star Wars” merchandising lucre to purchase the rights to screen images of dead movie stars. His plan is to give his tech-magicians at LucasArt the opportunity to perfect the process of re-animating and manipulating them to appear in new roles in new films. Imagine Humphrey Bogart in “Pirates of the Caribbean 5”! Imagine Marilyn Monroe joining the girls in “Sex and the City 2”!  Imagine Cary Grant in a buddy picture with Adam Sandler! Or Jar Jar Binks.

Undoubtedly there are many movie fans who would enjoy having digitally resurrected Hollywood legends appearing side-by-side current idols, and there is probably a lot of money to be made by giving them what they want. Turning deceased stars into computer-generated images and making them do and say anything the programmers choose, with the pace, volume and inflection the directors desire, would represent a significant technological advance. Another obvious benefit is that Lucas’s method is preferable to just digging up the carcasses of the acting greats, hanging them on wires, and using machinery to parade them through movie sets like marionettes.

But not much. Continue reading

WordPress Ethics, Or How Offensive Obama T-Shirt Ads Ended Up On My Blog

WordPress supplies a versatile and useful product that is user-friendly (if I can manage it, believe me, it is user-friendly), inexpensive, and well-serviced. It also seems to be diligent about supplying regular information, which is especially important to me. So many companies, and especially the government, regularly surprise me with unpleasant, disrupting, or costly changes in what they provide that I only learn about by accident, or when they start causing me trouble.

A few months back, for example, Direct TV gave me no-charge charge access to HBO, just a couple of months after I had canceled it. There was no notice about this, and as a result, we didn’t watch the network at all for some time, since we didn’t know we were receiving the signal. It was puzzling that the access to HBO just appeared, and when it had hung around a few months, I decided to look at the bill, which we paid automatically. Now, I discovered, we were being charged for HBO, which I had just canceled.

When I called Direct TV, the representative apologized, took off the charge, credited me with a past months charge before I had realized what had happened, and removed HBO. He also gave me a long explanation about why this had happened, which boils down to this: when your service is interrupted (as it was several months ago; I was late with a bill payment), it is my responsibility to tell Direct TV what channels I was getting before the interruption, or it might just slip in premium channels without telling me when it reconnects my service. Is this written anywhere? No, it isn’t.

I no longer trust Direct TV.

I don’t trust the Transportation Security Administration, either. Last week, in the middle of a trip that involved several flights, I set off the gate alarm, as is my custom (I have a metal hip), and prepared for the ceremonial wanding. But this time, it wasn’t a wanding; oh no no no! It was a bona fide, full-body, rough massage feel-up that included a sprightly hello to my throat, rear-end, and naughty bits. In many cities, such stimulation would have cost me a pretty penny, though only if it were not performed by a large, heavy, middle-aged guy named Carl, as mine was. Yes, in rapid response to the underwear bomber, whose attempted act of terrorism was more than a year ago, TSA has now instituted new pat-down procedures designed to determine, among other things, what’s in your BVDs. There was no advance notice of this to flyers, of course, until I was actually at the feel-up point of no return, having made my meeting schedule and bought my non-refundable ticket. In fact, the new procedures had been instituted mid-day, after I had taken a flight including the usual game of Wand Me.

Now, back on the ground, I learn that some readers of my WordPress blog see a string of Google Ads in the text, ads triggered by key words and automatically generated. Continue reading

What’s the Matter With Direct TV?

Okay, you Direct TV defenders…if you can stop rolling on the floor with hilarity over people being tasered by police officers and having their food adulterated by redneck waitresses for a second, explain this one to me.

In a current Direct TV commercial about the joys of paying your satellite bill online, a woman enthusiastically chirps, “No more “borrowing” stamps from the office!” Yes, not only does Direct TV assume that everyone steals stamps from their work place, but they think it’s no big deal. If it was anything to be ashamed of, the ad wouldn’t accuse its potential customers of doing it, now would they?

Stealing stamps or anything else of value from your job isn’t cute, and it isn’t right. Who are these people? How did they get this way? This time, they don’t even have the excuse that it’s just for laughs, because this commercial is all business. I think Direct TV’s ads show a company with an ethically corrupt culture, so much so that its management and staff just assumes everyone is just as dishonest and selfish as they are. If they’ll steal stamps, they’ll pad my bill.

So please explain to me, Direct TV fans, why accusing us of stamp stealing is all in good fun.  Otherwise, I think I’ll be going back to cable. It is beginning to look like there is something seriously wrong with this company.

What Do You Do With Climate Change Skeptics? Blow Them Up!

Ok, all you people out there who thought a waitress squeezing dishwater into the drinks of customers who didn’t root for her football team in the Direct TV ad was harmless…do you want to take responsibility for a trend?

As you can see over on YouTube, a climate change advocacy group called 10:10 is pressing its case with a video showing a teacher explaining to her pre-teen students the 10:10 formula, in which everyone cuts their carbon emission by 10%, “thus keeping the planet safe for everyone, eventually.” Most of the class volunteers various ways they and their parents can meet the 10% goal, but a couple of students refuse—vicious, dumb, Right wing global warming “deniers,” apparently. So the teacher pushes a button and blows them to bits, with flesh and blood splattering everywhere.  Similar scenarios involving the detonation of adult victims follow. You see, the only way to get “everyone” to save the planet by cutting carbon emissions by 10% is to eliminate those who refuse to do it. Continue reading

Police Brutality: Direct TV Strikes Again!

In a previous post that apparently established the proprietor of Ethics Alarms as a “fuddy-duddy,” I discussed the disturbing series of stereotype-bashing Direct TV commercials that sets out to show how amusing irrational hatred and gratuitously cruel behavior can be. The commercials seem to be escalating, and why not? Ethics Alarms isn’t their only, or most prominent, critic, and ethics be damned—the ads are being watched and talked about! Victory! And besides, they’re aimed at football fans, a demographic that is rather less likely to find the encouragement of random violence upsetting in any way.

The latest “hurt your rival” drama from Direct TV shows two police casually tasering a man who “cheats” in the Fantasy Football league by using his Direct TV NFL  feed to get an upper hand on the competition. (He is seen twitching on the floor. LOL!). As a commenter on the previous post has pointed out, police nationwide are fighting a perception and public relations battle over alleged incidents of excessive force, many involving tasers. This commercial encourages distrust of the police, and reinforces a false and unfair perception that misuse of their power and authority is the norm. Is it worth the laughs, if indeed there are any?

I think the standards for comedians and commercials should be different, with comics having the broadest possible discretion to do or say whatever they feel is necessary to promote mirth from their audiences. TV commercials are more than entertainment: the audiences don’t choose the content of ads or know when they will see them, and their visibility and repetition gives the commercials enough influence over cultural attitudes to warrant a higher level of responsibility on the part of the company and the ad agency.

Mainstream media ads both reflect public attitudes and mold them. The Direct TV ads either show we have a callous society, or are helping to make us one.

Direct TV’s Commercials For Hateful Jerks: NFL Sunday Ticket

The ad campaign for Direct TV’s NFL Sunday Ticket raises the question: if it is despicable, unethical and wrong to do something hateful to another individual because of his race,religion or national origin, can it be cute, funny or socially acceptable to take the same action against someone because of his pro football loyalties?

The Direct TV campaign, depicts the fans of various NFL teams expressing their anger and dismay over the fact that the satellite television service allows neighbors who have recently moved to their area can continue to root for their home town football teams by subscribing to NFL Sunday Ticket. In each commercial, a fan expresses his or her hatred for the newcomer by inflicting some form of surreptitious insult,  indignity, or attack: Continue reading